Census Records for Arkansas
This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D., FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
• Indexed—1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
• Soundex—1880, 1900, 1910 (Miracode), 1920, 1930
Industry and Agriculture Schedules
• 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
• 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
• 1850, 1860
The Arkansas History Commission has an excellent collection of compiled and/or published federal censuses and census indexes for most of the state’s counties in addition to microfilm copies of all federal censuses for the state. The original agriculture, industry, and mortality schedules are maintained by the Special Collections Library of the University of Arkansas (see Arkansas Archives, Libraries, and Societies). Microfilm copies of the agriculture, industry, mortality, and slave schedules are housed at the Arkansas History Commission. Originals of the slave schedules are at the National Archives. Arkansas mortality schedules have been indexed and published (1850–80) in Bobbi Jones McLane, Mortality Schedules for Arkansas, 4 vols. (Hot Springs, Ark.: Arkansas Ancestors, 1968–75).
The Arkansas Genealogical Society sponsored a statewide program to reconstruct the missing 1890 federal census with compilations of tax and other local records for that period. Many of these have been published by the individual counties. The Arkansas Genealogical Society should be contacted for the current status of the project. An example of one of the better compilations is Nancy L. Matthews, 1890 Tax Receipts, Real Estate Tax, Personal Property Tax and Poll Tax, Craighead County, Arkansas (Jonesboro, Ark.: the author, 2002).
Recent publications as a result of this project include Margaret Hubbard, Prairie County, Arkansas 1890 Census Reconstruction: A Sesquicentennial Project (Hot Springs, Ark.: the author, 1987). This compilation includes both northern and southern districts of the county and was compiled from tax assessment records. Additionally, the 1893 tax assessment rolls for the southern district are included in this volume. Some reconstructions of the 1890 census have been published by others, such as Billie W. New’s Bradley County, Arkansas, 1890 (Jacksonville, Ark.: the author, 1988).
A source developed from 1850 federal population census information was originally published in 1958–60 in Genealogical Newsletter (Washington, D.C.: Waldenmaier, 1956–60). Inez Waldenmaier, Arkansas Travelers (Washington, D.C.: the author, n.d.) contains the names of each man in every Arkansas county in 1850 who was sixty years old or older.
An index of the 1840 U.S. Census for Arkansas compiled by Bobbie Jones McLane is also available on Ancestry.com at Arkansas Census, 1840.
Territorial and State
A collection of French and Spanish records that lists early Europeans in Arkansas (1686–1804) is Morris S. Arnold and Dorothy Jones Core, comps. and eds., Arkansas Colonials (Gillett, Ark.: Grand Prairie Historical Society, 1986).
Federal territorial census records for 1810 included those settlements in the Arkansas District of Hopefield (West Memphis), St. Francis, and settlements along the Arkansas River, but these enumerations were lost. The 1820 federal territorial census included Miller County, which was organized that year by the Arkansas territorial government but actually was partially in Texas under Spanish control. This census was also lost.
Arkansas Territory sheriffs were directed to enumerate the citizens biennially beginning in 1823. Although these censuses were recorded in 1823, 1825, and 1827, only the 1823 schedule for Arkansas County remains of the three early enumerations. The 1829 sheriff’s census includes the name of the head of household, but only fragments remain. Those counties for which complete returns are available are Arkansas, Chicot, Clark, Conway, Crawford, Crittenden, Independence, Lawrence, Miller (old), St. Francis, and Washington. None are available for Pope or Sevier counties, and only the total number of inhabitants was submitted by the sheriffs of Hempstead, Izard, Lafayette, Phillips, and Pulaski counties. The extant 1823 and 1829 records have been published as Ronald Vern Jackson and Gary Ronald Teeples, eds., Arkansas Sheriff’s Censuses: 1823 & 1829 (Salt Lake City: Accelerated Indexing Systems, n.d.).
There is a collection of Arkansas census indexes available at Ancestry.com that contains the following indexes: 1819-1829 Tax Lists Index; 1820 Federal Census Index; 1823 Sheriff's Census Index; 1829 Sheriff's Census Index; 1830 Federal Census Index; 1830-1839 Tax Lists Index; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners Index; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1850 Slave Schedule; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1870 Federal Census Index. Subscribers can access it at Arkansas Census, 1819-70.